$540 Million Laundered Through Cross-Chain Bridge RenBridge

Key Takeaways

  • Crypto assets worth around $267.2 million have been laundered through RenBridge since 2020.
  •  $2.4 million in crypto assets stolen during the Nomad hack went through RenBridge
  • Over $2 billion worth of crypto has been siphoned out of cross-chain bridges in 2022 alone.

Recently, cross-chain bridges are increasingly getting subjected to hacks and scams. As per an Elliptic report, the cross-chain bridge-RenBridge – was used by ransomware gangs, exploiters, and hackers to facilitate the laundering of at least $540 million.

Reportedly, over the past two years, crypto stolen from exchanges and DeFi services worth around $267.2 million has been laundered through RenBridge. “This includes $33.8 million stolen from Japanese crypto exchange Liquid in August 2021. In total, $97 million was stolen from Liquid in an attack linked to North Korea”, the report reads.

According to the report, around $2.4 million in crypto assets stolen during the Nomad hack went through the cross-chain bridge. The recent Nomad Bridge hack was the fourth largest DeFi hack ever and the third biggest in 2022, following the $250 million Wormhole Bridge hack in February and the $540 million Ronin Bridge hack in March.

RenBridge is also linked to Russian-based ransomware groups, with nearly $153 million in ransom payments laundered through the service. The cross-chain bridge enabled the Conti cybercrime group – which recently attacked the Costa Rican government, to launder over $53 million.

The report further highlights how Decentralized cross-chain bridges provide unregulated alternatives that are now increasingly being embraced by cybercriminals.” Blockchain bridges such as RenBridge pose a challenge to regulators since there is no central service provider that facilitates these cross-chain transactions,” the Elliptic report reads.

The June 2022 report of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) highlighted money laundering through “chain hopping” as a major risk to virtual assets. The elliptic report acknowledged that “chain-hopping” – has long been used to evade tracing, usually achieved by exchanging assets through crypto asset exchanges that can be used anonymously.

Since most cross-chain bridges offer support for multiple blockchains, the chances of an error or vulnerability appearing within the code are high. Blockchain analytics company Chainalysis’s latest report shows over $2 billion worth of crypto has been siphoned out of cross-chain bridges in 2022. Chainalysis state that the underlying technology of cross-chain bridges is in its infancy and that many new models are now being tested, leaving the software more prone to attack. 

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